A Two-Way Experience

Written by: Jody Mugford

Have you ever stood in a worship service and felt like you just didn’t have it in you that day?  Your mind may be distracted by unexpected news, you may be dealing with heartache or pain, but for whatever reason, you just didn’t have the strength to open your heart and lift your hands in worship to God.  I have been there, friends…many times.  I love to sing and praise the Lord but there have been many occasions when my burdens just seemed too heavy.  I would detach myself from that sacred time with my church family and just “get through the service”.  I know God is worthy of all praise and adoration.  I had grown up hearing worship leaders encourage us to set aside our problems and focus on God but I had a hard time with this.  I felt like I was incapable of redirecting my attention from my worry to my Father.

Have you ever wondered why God wants us to worship Him?  He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and fully complete within Himself.  He certainly doesn’t need anything from us!  So why do we worship?

Firstly, we worship because He instructs us to and He is more than deserving.  It is how we acknowledge who God is, both to Him and as a declaration before others.  We thank Him for all He has done and how worthy He is of our adoration and complete surrender.

“Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim His salvation day after day.  Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples.  For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; He is to be feared above all gods.”  1 Chronicles 16:23-25

Worship, however, doesn’t only please the Lord.  It also edifies us, His church!  It aligns our hearts with the heart of God and shifts our spirit so we can hear from Him.  You know, God could have left worship as a one-way form of communication.  He is worthy of our praise simply for who He is and owes us nothing in return.  What I find so overwhelming is that He chooses to create a two-way experience!  Because of His infinite mercy and love, He chooses to pour out His Spirit on us as we worship Him.  He heals and restores and draws us closer to Himself.  He isn’t asking us to forget or ignore our problems but to intentionally surrender them to Him as a part of our worship.

If you’re like me, when you have a heavy burden on your heart, all your brainpower goes into it.  Whether in prayer, or in worship, I’m always reminding God of my problem and my need for His intervention.  May I share a truth God has been teaching me?  He already knows all about my problem.  He is working out His perfect plan but I must learn that part of the process is for me to lay the worry down.  I don’t need to come to Him like a battering ram, reminding Him over and over of my pressing need.  Yes, perseverance in prayer has a role, but so does surrendering it to Him and finding rest in worship.

Yes, worship is a place of REST!  When we spend time expressing our love to our Heavenly Father, sitting at His feet and soaking up His presence, we will never leave empty.  The Holy Spirit longs to bubble up peace and joy, patience and endurance within us.  He asks that we learn to set our burdens down and leave them with Him…and worship Him.  This is an act of faith and trust, handing it over to the Lord and choosing to dwell on who He is while we let Him work out the details.

I was struck by this when reading the story of the Last Supper in Mark 14.  After Jesus had broken bread with His disciples for the last time before His crucifixion, He worshipped God!

“And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”  Mark 14:26

This tiny little verse reveals so much of Jesus’ heart and surrender to God.  He sang praises to His Father the night before He was to be crucified!  We know He was broken as He cried out in anguish before God in the Garden of Gethsemane, but He also opened His heart in surrender and worship, singing a hymn.  This encourages me and challenges me that we are to worship God in all circumstances, not just when we are “up to it”.  We surrender our pain to Him, leaving it at His feet and worship Him and, in turn, He lifts us up.  As we shift our focus to our Savior, He begins to shift our perspective.  We aren’t ignoring our problems or pretending they don’t exist.  We are doing far better – we are surrendering our situations to Him, leaving Him to work out the best solutions while learning to praise God and rest in Him in every situation.  Praise the Lord!

“Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise His holy name.
Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things He does for me.
He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.”  Psalm 103:1-4

Love and blessings,

Jody